Baton Rouge Loop

Recently I joined a message-board known as Urban Planet, being there I went to find the Baton Rouge forum. After finding it and introducing myself I got into a discussion on how to improve the roads of Baton Rouge.

To properly participate I had to get familiar with the cities main roads so I of course went to…The googlenet. Googlenet really helped me get orientated with the area. While on googlenet maps I realized that this city had a really good interstate impression, unlike most American cities. This impression has allowed them to keep many historical buildings and neighborhoods, another thing most American cities can not say.

For a city the size of Baton Rouge you would not expect their traffic to be bad, but actually the city is the most commuted in the state. In fact it has been said, “Baton Rouge has the traffic for a city twice it’s size”…ouch! Let me go get some water from the river to put out that burn! After spending almost a month and a half hear I can say it is certainly true. Most of the traffic is located in South Baton Rouge, this area holds most of the jobs, shopping centers, and LSU. This area is such an important part of the city that when many people in this largely unincorporated area tried to break away, that effort is burning down with no river water to save it. So the fact that the traffic hear is so bad is a major problem.

I began looking for a solution, and I think I have one.

As an Urban Revolutionist, it’s my goal to make modern cities work. Some Urbanest call for the destruction of interstates in our cities, I however, disagree. I believe that instead of getting rid of them, we should embrace them. For Baton Rouge that would be fairly easy, looking at googlenet maps you will see that the city is comprised of three ‘branches’. The first to branch of from the cities main bridge across the river, one goes North, the other South. The South branch splits around Citi Place (an outdoor shopping and business park) the third branch goes more Southward while the second continues on towards New Orleans.

The biggest problem with Traffic that I noticed is that for people living in the cities closer suburbs (Prairieville or Central/Zachary) There is only one Interstate branch. Considering that most of the cities workforce comes from these suburbs I figured there must be a way to decrease the traffic along those branches. The next traffic problem occurred on the states main bridge or ‘The New Bridge’. This bridge sees the most traffic as it is the only access point for people across the river into Baton Rouge and beyond. In a sense Baton Rouge is the gateway to South Louisiana. Having one access point for an important city is likely the worst thing I have ever heard, so a solution was needed. This solution needed to address all traffic concerns and create more access points into the city. So I created this:

Image

Orange = Interstate

Red = Loop

Looking at the map the first change is the creating of a fourth branch in the interstate, this branch creates a second entry point for Prairieville out of Hwy 61’s lower half. The next change is the North Branch now is a straight shot from Downtown to the Airport. This means that the cities Downtown can now expand over the land left by the previous route of the North Branch.

However, the biggest change is the creation of a city loop. This loop created a second bridge into the city and the renovation a third (or the ‘Old Bridge’). The loop turns Airline Hwy. into an Interstate level road, something that many city natives would love. In addition the loop creates two interstate branches in West Baton Rouge/ Port Allen. I’m imagining that the loop would be toll.

In conclusion while this is not my final proposal I hope you guys get the main idea of it, in short this plan, or one like it would have massive benefits for the city and help it decrease traffic, without creating a large city eye sore and expanding the cities Downtown.

Thanks for reading, and joining the Revolution.

Callin’ Baton Rouge

Recently my family and I moved to the small Southern Capital city of Louisiana, also known as Baton Rouge or ‘The Red Stick’. Founded in 1719, the city has seen nearly seven national flags fly above it’s waterfront and has been a major industrial and shipping location in the American South.

Upon arriving I honestly was not sure what to expect, but the city itself is rather beautiful. It has a unique Southern Charm to it that’s hard to find. One thing I was taken aback by was the greenery, and apparently it is the most tree canopied city in North America. The city is also home to The Louisiana State University (LSU) and Southern University, a historical black college. So far I have only lived in the city for a few weeks and have been very impressed with the amount of growth it seems to have, after doing some research I have found the following things:

  • The city has the ninth largest port in the US, and is currently undergoing an expansion
  • Three Fortune 500 companies call Baton Rouge home or have a headquarters located here: IBM, Shaw, and CB&I
  • Lamar advertising also calls the city home, that company is a Fortune 1000 company
  • The city will be home to one of the largest water preservation campuses in a few years

So for me, being an urban enthusiast, I’m excited to be living here during what seems to be the cities ‘golden age’ of development.

In addition to researching fun city trivia I also wanted to find any historical information I could, and boy was I in for a shocker! I discovered this map searching through Google:

Plan of BR 1806

The link brought me to this amazing French-American site

In 1806 Baton Rouge was still apart of Spanish American territory and because of it’s natural barrier to hurricanes and prime location the city had a promising trading future. In response to this Elie Toutant Beauregard wanted to create a new city center in French Colonial Tradition. So after many attempts at creating a master-plan he contacted  Arsene Lacarrière Latour a French architect who had recently arrived in New Orleans  to create one.

According to the article, “The city Lacarrière Latour had imagined was anchored on the Mississippi River and bordered on three sides by wide boulevards shaded. It focused on either side of a central axis (now Government Street) extending from the River to the east, with its center a large square (Place Royale), the heart of the city, which opened on not less than 16 different streets, four of which cut the city map diagonally and debouched at their end on a smaller site. Each of the seven squares allow further enhance public buildings: Cathedral Place Royale, the governor’s palace on the Place d’Armes, hospital, school, market...”

The structure would have broken the cities pre-existing grid and created social spaces for the residents through the planned Colosseum and Vauxhall (1). The plan would have elements incorporated from major world cities of the time such as London, Paris, and Washington. Large squares dedicated to Christopher Columbus would have been surrounded by warehouses and customs offices.

The entire effort fell through after the land was annexed by the US (along with the West Florida States) in 1810 coupled with the death of Beauregard in 1809. Very few building had been constructed and all that remains today is the beginnings of the street grid in the form of the downtown’s historic Beauregard Town neighborhood.

After seeing this plan, I personally can not stop wondering what Baton Rouge would have been like today if things were constructed. Obviously the loss of Spain would have made it hard for the city to become a crucial point, but maybe it could have served (as it does today) as an alternative port to New Orleans. In the end we will never know what might have been America’s Paris. 

That’s all for today folks! I’m thinking about going downtown today so maybe a picture post is in our future! Have a nice day and thanks for joining the revolution.

Notes;

1. Vauxhall – Popular in Europe at the time, they were gardens adorned with decorations. The public could attend live shows, live music, or play games outside.

*UPDATE*

I found another picture of the map with the major buildings of the city in 1806 worked into the proposed plan:

Beauregard layout